With vivid images and videos of a burning Australia, and words such as “apocalyptic” and “atomic” being flung about, the tourism industry needs to quickly deploy a plan that is sensitive and achievable.
The peak Chinese New Year holiday season starts in just three weeks. Australia’s tourism industry has plenty to lose if it does not provide a more coordinated response to assuage travelers’ concerns on whether it’s safe and attractive to holiday Down Under, as our report below shows.
To be sure, it’s a delicate balance to rally around communities and tourism areas worst hit by the bushfires and to be worrying about cancellations. In this our hearts go out to Australia’s tourism stakeholders.
There are, however, businesses in unaffected areas that need tourists, and there are travelers who need answers. At present, it may seem visitors are being asked to go figure it out for themselves, even though that surely isn’t the intention. Tourism Australia’s visitor or corporate websites, for example, carry no updates on its most popular destinations. Instead, the tourism organization provides links to the websites of the rural fire services and national parks in the various Australian states and territories.
A national crisis communications plan is needed — after all, the disaster has been described in terrifying terms such as “apocalyptic” and “an atomic bomb.” But communication has been muted so far, which is ironic. For if there’s a destination that is most adept at using public relations to gain publicity in the media, it’s Australia.
Perhaps this oversight is due to the shock of the bushfires’ severity or the fact that people are just returning to work from the New Year holidays.
Hopefully the PR machinery is being cranked up to send out the right messages.
Update: Tourism Australia has since updated its website to include a summary of its most popular destinations for international travelers, and whether they have been impacted by the current bushfires or are safe to visit. It updates the list regularly.
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Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.
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Photo credit: With the world seeing vivid images such as this, Australia tourism needs a crisis communications plan. Bloomberg